Maize grain exporters, traders and farmers in Uganda should brace for a devastating price slump of the product after a Friday decision by Kenya to ban the importation of the cereal from the country.
The ban that was announced by the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA), also affects Tanzania.
“We wish to bring to your attention that Agriculture and Food Authority has stopped any further imports of the maize into Kenya with immediate effect,” Ms Kello Harsana, the acting director general of AFA, said in a Friday statement. “The Republic of Kenya of is, however, committed to facilitating safe trade with her trading partners and look forward to working closely with all stakeholders to address the concern.”
The decision, according to Ms Harsana stemmed from their findings from the surveillance on the safety of food imports to Kenya that revealed that maize from Uganda and Tanzania contain substances that cause cancer.
She said: “Test results for maize imported from Uganda and Tanzania have revealed high levels of mycotoxins that are consistently beyond safety limits,” Ms Harsana said in the statement. “Mycotoxins, particularly aflatoxins and fumonisins are known to be carcinogenic. Over the years, a number of acute and chronic aflatoxins related illness cases have been recorded in Kenya including deaths.”
Since Uganda’s maize grain and related products are mainly exported to Kenya, the ban will certainly worsen the current low maize prices.
On average, a kilogramme of maize grain goes for Shs400 in most parts of the country.
Players in the sector blame the low prices on low demand which is attributed to Covid-19 pandemic that saw schools being closed. Students are mainly fed on maize meals (posho) and porridge.
Trade Minister Ms Amelia Kyambadde said she’s aware about the development but needs to get more briefing to enable her respond.
Ms Harsana letter is copied to Mr Peter Munya, the Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Cooperatives.
Last year, Kenya stopped the importation of Lato Milk, a product of Pearl Dairies based in Mbarara, western Uganda.
The ban followed complaints by Kenyan farmers over the influx of Ugandan milk.